One of the more talked about moves this offseason is the Yankees’ decision to sign Travis Hafner. While Hafner was at one point a perennial MVP candidate, injuries have derailed his career and he is no longer the player that he once was. The Yankees are hoping that Hafner can stay healthy and put up solid numbers for them over the course of the season. So assuming that he does stay healthy, what can we expect from him?
For the sake of this analysis, I will focus on just three statistics: batting average, home runs, and RBIs.
Batting average: Hafner has never been known to be a pure hitter. In previous seasons, he has been relied on for his ability to simply crush the ball. That said, Hafner has had a few seasons where he has hit over .300. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened since 2006 when he hit .308 with the Cleveland Indians. Therefore it is probably safe to assume that Hafner will not be hitting over .300 with the Yankees. Since ’06, the highest that Hafner has hit for has been .280, and that came back in 2011, so hit ability to hit is still there somewhere.
Let’s assume that Hafner plays in more than 100 games this season. His record shows that if he plays in more than 90 games, he will hit over .250 at least. However, assuming that Hafner bats in the 7th spot in the Yankees lineup, that would probably put him in front of the catcher and Brett Gardner. If that happens, Hafner may not get many good pitches to hit as whoever the catcher is batting behind him may not have the numbers to protect him. This could take a toll on the average, but it shouldn’t be a major one. If Hafner plays in more than 100 games, I think a batting average of around .260 should be a safe assumption.
Home runs: As I alluded to earlier, Hafner is known to tear the cover off of the ball. Unfortunately, he hasn’t hit more than 20 home runs in a season since 2007. Going off of the assumption that Hafner plays more than 100 games, he is still not guaranteed to hit more than 20. If we go off of Hafner’s record once again though, it shows that if Hafner plays more than 60 games in a season, he will hit at least 12 home runs. If you couple that in with the fact that he will almost certainly be aiming for the short-porch in right field at Yankee Stadium, he will probably see a boost in home run production. So if he does play in more than 100 games, Hafner should have little problem once again reaching the 20 home run mark.
RBI: Here is where batting lower in the order might actually help Hafner and the Yankees. Because he will be batting behind players who can get on base, he will have plenty of opportunities to knock in some runners. RBIs are a funny thing because they can fluctuate for a player from year to year. Hafner can put up 100+ RBI, or he could put up 50 – it all depends on the opportunities he gets. I think it’s safe to assume though that Hafner’s 100+ RBI days are behind him. Hafner having 50+ RBIs on the other hand is no so taboo. One could make the argument that the players that Hafner has batting in front of him now are better than the once that batted in front of him with the Indians. If that is the case, and the Yankees get on base, then I’d say that “Pronk” could have somewhere around 65 RBIs.
Final Line: .260/ 20 HR/ 65 RBI
So assuming that Hafner stays healthy and plays in more than 100 games for the Yankees as the DH, he could potentially put up a solid season. It will be interesting to see how Pronk does in his time as a New York Yankee.